desperate

adjective
des·​per·​ate | \ ˈdes-p(ə-)rət, -pərt\

Definition of desperate

1a : having lost hope a desperate spirit crying for relief
b : giving no ground for hope the outlook was desperate
2a : moved by despair or utter loss of hope victims made desperate by abuse
b : involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration made a desperate leap for the rope
3 : suffering extreme need or anxiety desperate for money desperate to escape celebrities desperate for attention
4 : involving extreme danger or possible disaster a desperate situation
5 : of extreme intensity … a desperate languor descended heavily upon her, and she slept …— Elinor Wylie

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Other Words from desperate

desperateness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for desperate

Synonyms

despairing, despondent, forlorn, hopeless

Antonyms

hopeful, optimistic

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Choose the Right Synonym for desperate

despondent, despairing, desperate, hopeless mean having lost all or nearly all hope. despondent implies a deep dejection arising from a conviction of the uselessness of further effort. despondent about yet another rejection despairing suggests the slipping away of all hope and often despondency. despairing appeals for the return of the kidnapped child desperate implies despair that prompts reckless action or violence in the face of defeat or frustration. one last desperate attempt to turn the tide of battle hopeless suggests despair and the cessation of effort or resistance and often implies acceptance or resignation. the situation of the trapped miners is hopeless

Examples of desperate in a Sentence

The collapse of her business had made her desperate. As the supply of food ran out, people became desperate. We could hear their desperate cries for help. a desperate struggle to defeat the enemy He made a desperate bid to save his job. They made one last desperate attempt to fight their way out.
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Recent Examples on the Web

People are desperate to make a buck these days, selling off their great-grandma’s amber necklace or their dad’s 18 karat pocket watch. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Living Yard Sale to Yard Sale With My Mother, a Well Dressed Antique Dealer," 30 Aug. 2018 Both sides have had different but equally impressive paths to Sunday’s final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium and each is desperate to reward its nation with ultimate glory. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "How the World Cup final between France and Croatia will be won," 13 July 2018 The German bank, dominant in its domestic market, was desperate to grow in the US. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "The thinly-sourced theories about Trump’s loans and Justice Kennedy’s son," 12 July 2018 And on Monday, after nine long and arduous days, the boys and their coach were found alive in the cave — a godsend for their anxious families and joyous news for a country that had been riveted to televisions and social media, desperate for updates. NBC News, "How search-and-rescue crews found the missing Thai boys soccer team," 2 July 2018 Mookie steals his best player and his girlfriend, leaving Dax desperate. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "NBA star-filled 'Uncle Drew' is bad, but awfully hard to hate," 28 June 2018 People seemed desperate to work themselves into Oprah 2020 fever. Wesley Morris, New York Times, "Oprah Earned This Museum Show. And It’s a Potent Spectacle.," 21 June 2018 As March rolled into April, the LAPD was getting desperate. Hadley Meares, Los Angeles Magazine, "One of the “Tragic Mysteries in Local History” Has Been All But Forgotten," 7 June 2018 Luigi Di Maio, the political leader of the Five Star Movement, has steadily shed political capital and seemed desperate for the new talks. Jason Horowitz, BostonGlobe.com, "Italy’s Populists May Give Talks Another Shot, as Uncertainty Lingers," 30 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desperate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of desperate

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for desperate

Latin desperatus, past participle of desperare — see despair entry 2

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Statistics for desperate

Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for desperate

The first known use of desperate was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for desperate

desperate

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of desperate

: very sad and upset because of having little or no hope : feeling or showing despair

: very bad or difficult to deal with

: done with all of your strength or energy and with little hope of succeeding

desperate

adjective
des·​per·​ate | \ ˈde-spə-rət, -sprət\

Kids Definition of desperate

1 : very sad and worried and with little or no hope People became desperate for food.
2 : showing great worry and loss of hope a desperate call for help
3 : giving little reason to hope : causing despair a desperate situation
4 : reckless because of despair : rash He made a desperate attempt to escape.
5 : very severe The injury is in desperate need of attention.

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Comments on desperate

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